Workers' Forum, 20156:23 video
Workers’ Forum is an animated message conversation, the idea for which developed from Takala’s experience as a micro-tasker in the United States, in which she worked for a service where users pay to have a pretend girlfriend or boyfriend texting them. Through a crowdsourcing platform, the artist responded to the task ‘Write a text message that is positive, engaging and convincingly written in the voice of someone texting a significant other.’ The video is based on conversations that took place in a discussion forum between the micro-taskers, trying to figure out together how to be an invisible partner. Micro-taskers receive small chunks of large jobs as part-time workers, offering a cheap supply of labour for online enterprises.
Many workers felt compelled to invest more than the job required of them; spending extra time and effort participating in the forum, which is non-compulsory and uncompensated. Takala herself found the work almost addictive, as did many others. In their own time they share information and enquire about the service users, keeping up-to-date with their lives and discussing how to manage the role, it is apparent that the necessary support systems and protocols are not in place. The workers express genuine concern, in spite of being underpaid and working within a system that is designed to minimise human connection and make caring as difficult as possible.
Animation by Animated Zeug Supported by Helsinki Contemporary